Cork City Council asks Minister to legislate for boundary change
Failure of city and county councils to agree new boundary prompts request to Murphy
Minister for Local Government Eoghan Murphy. Photograph: Cyril Byrne
At a meeting last night, Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr Tony Fitzgerald proposed the council request the Minister to give effect to a boundary extension recommended by an Implementation Oversight Group (IOG) which is dealing with local government reform in Cork.
The new boundary line recommended by the group is based on an agreement reached between Cork City chief executive Ann Doherty and Cork County Council chief executive Tim Lucey and their management negotiating teams on December 4th.
As part of this arrangement, Ballincollig, Cork Airport, Glanmire, Blarney and Tower will be incorporated inside a greatly expanded city. However, this compromise was not accepted by Cork County Council, whose members voted by 28 votes to 5 against it last Friday.
If both councils had agreed, then the new boundary could have been introduced by way of a Ministerial order under Part V of the Local Government Act but the lack of agreement means this option is not possible as it could be open to a legal challenge.
Instead, Mr Fitzgerald said he was requesting the Minister to introduce primary legislation in the Dáil to give effect to the compromise city boundary following a statement by Minister Murphy after a cabinet meeting on December 12th that he had accepted the IOG recommendation
Last night Mr Fitzgerald reiterated that the Minister had accepted the group’s recommendation and had urged both councils to accept its findings. The decision of Cork County Council to reject the group’s proposal meant primary legislation was needed.
Mr Fitzgerald’s proposal was passed by 24 votes in favour, none against and three abstentions with Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and several independents all voting for it. Cllrs Fiona Ryan and Marion O’Sullivan of Solidarity and Cllr Ted Tynan of the Workers Party abstained.
Ms Ryan explained she and her colleague, Ms O’Sullivan, had abstained because they felt the compromise boundary did not go far enough in terms of allowing for the expansion of the city.
“There are two key areas that are critical to the proper development of Cork city which are excluded from the compromise boundary recommended by the IOG. They are Little Island and Passage West which are absolutely essential for the natural growth and breathing room of Cork city.
“Having consulted with lots of people from Little Island and Passage West through various campaigns and asking them about where they identify with, they all identified with the city in terms of using city services and they work and socialise in the city centre.
“I think what’s happened here is that there was horse-trading and I don’ t think that’s a proper way to plan for the development of Cork city over the next 50 years, it should be about providing a mechanism to allow Cork city grow for the future rather than the protection of political fiefdoms.”